The latest ruling of the National
Green Tribunal (NGT) banning diesel vehicles with engine capacities of 2000cc
and above has sent the entire Indian auto industry in a state of shock and
disbelief. The NGT bench headed by Justice Swatanter Kumar issued the interim
order after hearing a petition filed by the Lawyers Environmental Awareness
Forum (LEAF) based in Kerala. The NGT special circuit bench at Kochi not only banned
the use of diesel vehicles older than 10 years, as in Delhi but also directed
the state not to register any diesel vehicle which has an engine capacity of
As for the ban on diesel
vehicles more than 10 years old, the tribunal stated if these continue to run
after 30 days (the time given for owners to stop its road use), a fine of Rs
10,000 would be imposed on the vehicle owner.
This NGT order has sent deep
shock waves among several auto makers, especially those manufacturing cars with
diesel engines of 2000cc and above. Not only is it a shocking turn of events
for these vehicle manufacturers, especially after the Supreme Court ordered a
similar ban in the Delhi NCR, but also questions the veracity of India’s macro-economic
policies that have in the past enabled the growth of the Indian auto industry.
It was based on these policies that several foreign auto makers had decided to
invest in India to manufacture vehicles. The future of several hundreds of auto
ancillary players in the country also depends on the healthy growth of these
Ban on diesel cars with engine
capacities of 2000cc and above has and will further affect companies like Audi
India, BMW India, Chevrolet, Force Motors, Ford India, Isuzu Motors India,
Jaguar Land Rover, Mahindra & Mahindra, Maserati, Mitsubishi, Porsche,
Skoda, Tata Motors, Toyota Kirloskar Motor India and Volkswagen in one way or
The NGT had first caused a
stir in the auto industry when on December 11, 2015, it banned registration of
new diesel vehicles till January 6, 2016 in Delhi amid rising concerns over
pollution in the city. It also told the government not to renew the
registration of diesel vehicles more than 10 years old. The NGT decision had
come a day after Supreme Court said it would examine if diesel vehicles could
be banned in the capital.
It’s a Blue, Blue Christmas for diesel car makers in India
Much to the chagrin of the
Indian auto industry, the highest court in the country, the Supreme Court of
India, a few days after the NGT order, banned new diesel luxury cars and SUVs with engine capacities of 2000cc and
above from being registered in Delhi National Capital Region (NCR). This ban
continues despite several attempts by auto makers asking SC to revoke the ban.
SC clamps the rich man’s wheels; Common man trampled too
Coming back to the Kochi
Circuit Bench of the NGT, the latter also barred all 10-year-old diesel
vehicles- light and heavy - from plying on the roads of six cities--
Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Kochi, Thrissur, Kozhikode and Kannur after 30
Kerala with its high per
capita income and its wealth influenced by expatriate remittances, has a great
spread of car dealerships that sell diesel vehicles not just for the masses but
also for the uber rich Malayalis. Almost every major luxury car brand selling
high-end diesel cars has a dealership in the state. Massive investments have
gone into setting up these dealerships, many of which have been built at huge
costs and are comparable to the best abroad.
Kerala which geographically
boasts of several hilly terrains, besides beaches and other uneven terrains,
has a huge demand for diesel utility vehicles with engines, unlike their petrol
counterparts, that produce enough torque to ply without hindrance in this
If the NGT were to continue
passing similar orders in other states too, it could spell doom for several
Indian auto makers and even the ancillary industry. Hundreds and thousands of
crores of rupees have been spent by the industry to build capacities to not
only manufacture these diesel vehicles but also diesel engines. To give a
couple of examples, Isuzu Motors recently set up its new plant in SriCity in
Andhra Pradesh to manufacture both diesel commercial vehicles as well as
passenger vehicle. Set up at a cost of several thousand crores of rupees, this
facility may be doomed if such orders were to be passed throughout India
because all its vehicles have diesel engine capacities of more than 2000cc.
On other hand, companies like
Force Motors which manufactures diesel vehicles has also invested heavily in
diesel engine plants for making engines for BMW and Mercedes-Benz India. These
investments would come to naught if a ban on diesel cars were to be imposed
across the country.
Several leading automobile
industry officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity told Motown India, the NGT order in Kerala
and the Supreme Court order earlier, banning diesel vehicles were not at all
favourable to the auto industry and may even spell doom for the industry.
“Our diesel cars are the most
fuel efficient and environment friendly. Banning them is not the answer to
controlling pollution. Emissions from modern diesel cars barely contribute to
the pollution in the air, as compared to dust, burning of waste, fumes from
obsolete vehicles, etc.,” said an aggrieved official.
The NGT order on diesel car
ban has affected several popular car models in the country. These include the
likes of Audi Q 5 and 7 series, Audi A8L, Audi A4, BMW 7 series, Ford
Endeavour, Isuzu D-Max, Jaguar XJ, Land Rover Discover Sport, Range Rover,
Range Rover Evoque, Range Rover Sport, Mercedes-Benz GLE-class, Mitsubishi
Pajero, Toyota Fortuner, Toyota Innova, among others.
Auto Industry is a soft target; SC ban order unfortunate
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